Taking into account the unparalleled introduction of travel restrictions across the world, the United Nations specialised agency for tourism expects that international tourist arrivals will be down by 20 percent to 30 percent this year when compared with 2019 figures.
However, UNWTO stressed that these numbers are based on the latest developments as the global community faces up to an unprecedented social and economic challenge and should be interpreted with caution in view of the extreme uncertain nature of the current crisis.
An expected fall of between 20-30 percent could translate into a decline in international tourism receipts (exports) of between USD300-450 billion, almost one third of the USD1,5 trillion generated in 2019.
Taking into account past market trends, this would mean that between five and seven years’ worth of growth will be lost to COVID-19. Putting this into context, UNWTO notes that in 2009, on the back of the global economic crisis, international tourist arrivals declined by four percent, while the SARS outbreak led to a decline of just 0,4 percent in 2003.